Sunday, May 28, 2017

say hello to Marion Moore Hill

Due to a snafu with comments, ROCCO is re-running this post!

Meow, my guest today is MARION MOORE HILL

Welcome Marion. Tell us a bit about your background.

Thanks ROCCO!   I was born in Oklahoma and grew up in various small towns in Illinois and Kansas as the family moved around following my father's oil-field job.  After high school, I worked three years as a legal secretary, then attended junior college in Kansas and college in Shawnee, OK.  Following a master's at Stanford U., I taught journalism at Carson-Newman College (now University) in Jefferson City, TN.  There, I met and married Elbert Hill, and we lived in Knoxville and later in Memphis while he completed his master's degree.  We moved to Durant, OK, and both taught in the English Dept. at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, then moved to Lincoln, NE, where he earned a Ph.D., then back to Durant in 1972, where we've lived ever since.   I worked as a legal secretary in California while studying at Stanford.  We owned a small ethnic-foods store in Durant, OK, from 1976 to 1985, mostly serving the international students that attended SOSU, and I ran it.  Since about 1987, I've concentrated on writing fiction and finally had a short story published in 1999.  I now have six novels published in two different mystery series.

Tell us about your SCRAPPY LIBRARIAN series

 I adore libraries and wanted to write about a librarian, but I was put off by the stereotypical librarian often depicted in books:  a rigid, non-smiling, hair-in-a-bun martinet who can't imagine having fun herself, much less allowing anyone else to do so.  I wanted to write about a librarian more like the ones I know:  interesting individuals, interested in lots of subjects, and fun-loving, having a good sense of humor.  As I was thinking one day about that kind of librarian, I began hearing the voice of Juanita Wills, who's all those things I liked.  Juanita is a tad cynical about life, but she likes people and is passionate about justice.  The Scrappy Librarian was born, and I never get tired of spending time with Juanita and with the people she hangs out with in Wyndham, OK.

How did you get the idea for your DEADLY PAST series?

  I got the idea for this series when I learned about the odd will that Benjamin Franklin left (which I'd never heard about in any of my history courses).  He bequeathed money to the cities of Philadelphia and Boston but directed that the funds earn interest for 200 years after his death before the cities received all the money.  I thought, "What a fascinating idea for a legacy!"  At first, I couldn't figure out how to incorporate this idea into a novel.  Should I write a historical mystery set in Franklin's time?  But the real payoff for such a legacy was two centuries after Ben's death, after all the interest had accrued.  So I ended up having a fictitious acquaintance of Franklin's death copy his idea but leave the money (interest and all) not to cities but to his own descendants who would be alive two centuries after his death.  Predictably, once the heirs meet in Philadelphia in current day, some die under mysterious circumstances.  Deadly Will is the most successful of all my books so far, and I think that's at least partly because of its unusual plot, based on a little-known fact about a historical figure.

How do you get to know your characters?

 I have a basic idea of the type of character I need, and then I just start writing.  It isn't until I put characters into scenes and see and hear them interacting that I fully understand the characters and their relationships.  I haven't a clue how my brain does that—why it can develop a character in a scene but not apart from a scene—but that's how it happens for me.  And I sometimes discover things about continuing characters with each book I put them in, because they're doing other things and interacting with other characters than in the initial novel.

Plotter or pantser?

  I've never been able to outline a novel in great detail before I begin writing, as I've heard P. D. James say she could.  I know the beginning and ending of a novel, the identity of the victim and the murderer, and sometimes a few scenes that happen somewhere in the middle.  Then I begin writing.  When I'm well into writing the book, I pause and do more outlining, since I then have a better idea where the story is going.  All that said, I now am able to see a bit more of the book before I begin writing than I used to.  So gradually I'm becoming more of a Plotter.

Which is more important,plot or character?

 It's hard to choose between these, since they interact so much.  That is, I have trouble creating a character without also thinking of events in the plot that involve that character.  And I can't come up with a plot without thinking of the people who'll act in it.  But I do love good characters, so if I had to choose one or the other, it would be character.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as an author?

  Probably my biggest challenge as a writer was keeping myself going in those lean early years while I was still learning to write fiction, before I got published or won any prizes for writing.  Once those began coming, and I could really think of myself as "a writer," staying motivated became much easier.  The challenge now is saying "no" when I'm asked to take on an interesting project—I have lots of interests and want to be involved in lots of things—but carving out time to write is essential.

Do you have an “how I got my agent” story?

 I don't have an agent.  I have tried from time to time to get one, and, although agents often told me they liked things about a work I had submitted, they didn't offer representation.  I have now worked with three publishers—all small independent presses—and haven't needed an agent for my mysteries.  That said, I am working on a standalone mainstream novel, and am trying to get an agent for that.

What are you working on now?

 I'm working on Deadly Kin, the third in my Deadly Past Mysteries series.  This will be set in the Boston area, and its plot relates to John, Abigail and Samuel Adams.  I've done most of the research for the book and have begun to write it.  I also hope to get my mainstream novel published, and its success or lack of it could affect which way my career then goes.  But right now, I'm planning to write more Scrappy Librarian and Deadly Past novels.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

 I would advise any aspiring author to read a lot, write a lot, and accept that a piece you've written may need to go through several revisions before it's ready for publication.  I think many new writers assume they'll break into print with the first thing they write, in its first draft, but usually that doesn't happen.  For most of us, learning to write well is a process, much like training to become a doctor or a lawyer.  We improve with study and with practice.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

  I don't do a lot of crazy things (that I'm willing to admit to, at least).  I guess one decision some would consider crazy was the time my husband and I, plus a younger friend, traveled by car from California to Oklahoma and decided it would be neat to watch the sun rise over the Grand Canyon.  So we stopped there overnight, slept in the car, and saw a spectacular display of colors as sunlight caressed the many surfaces of the canyon.  I've never seen anything to rival that sight since.  Crazy, maybe.  But so worth it.

What’s something your readers would be surprised to learn about you?

  I began my education by attending a one-room school in Illinois, moved during fourth grade to a "city" school where only pupils in my grade filled a whole room, then moved again that year (My dad got transferred around a lot when he was a young oil-field worker.) to a two-room school.  In my experience, the one- and two-room schools provided education that was far superior to that in the larger school.  Having fewer pupils does make a difference in what can be accomplished in a classroom!

What’s one question you wish interviewers would ask you (and what’s the answer?)

What interesting thing happened to you while doing research for your mysteries?  Answer:  My husband and I were in the Philadelphia area, scoping out locations to use in my novel "Deadly Will," and having dinner in a restaurant in Philly after having toured nearby Valley Forge National Historical Park.  We were saying things like:  "That corner of Valley Forge would be a good spot to kill so-and-so."  We noticed the women at the adjoining table had gotten quiet and were sneaking glances at us.  My husband asked if they were wondering what we were talking about.  They nodded, hesitantly, and we explained about the book.  They were local Philadelphians and then told us about other places around town that were "eerie" and would be good places "to stash a body."

If you entered the witness protection program, what career would you like to have?

Working as a cook at a fine restaurant (not the head chef, but maybe as a sous chef).  I love being around food and watching skilled hands create it.

What would you like a never ending supply of?

Ice cream.  My first thought was chocolate.  I do love chocolate, but vanilla ice cream beats that out.

What’s the last TV show that made you laugh:

Full Frontal" with Samantha Bee.  She's really funny, and her humor has a point.

What store could you browse in for hours?

  Nothing beats a bookstore for browsing, whether it's a big B&N or a small indy (as long as it contains a variety of interesting books).

Night or Day? (both, really, but if I must choose)
Dog or Cat? (I like both, but dogs warm my heart more.)
Beach or Pool(neither, really—I'm not much of a swimmer.)
Salad or Steak?  (much more variety possible in a salad)
Favorite Book: To Kill a Mockingbird (so many books, so little time)
TV Show? Mash (terrific writing and acting)
Movie? The Lion in Winter  "     "     "
Actor: Paul Newman
Actress: Katherine Hepburn
Hawaii or Alaska? Alaska

Finish the below:
If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be :Benjamin Franklin.  Think of the great conversations!
If I had one wish, it would be :to have lots more readers find and enjoy my novels!
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be: Joy Reid on MSNBC.  She's very sharp and gets to interview interesting people.

Readers can find me:
          At my website,  (Note that's .net.  I had the .com domain but lost it when I failed to renew in time one year.)  There's a page at my website for Author Tour, which lists events where I'll be speaking within the next few months.
          At many libraries.  I love giving talks at libraries, because you meet readers there, and there's nothing more fun than discussing books with others who love to read.
          At Malice Domestic mystery convention in Bethesda, MD, on April 29-30.  I'll be the sweet little old lady talking about murder (as if there won't be many others there doing the same thing).

Marion will give FIVE lucky readers their choice of any one of my six published novels (listed below in order of publication):
          Scrappy Librarian Mysteries:
                    BOOKMARKED FOR MURDER
                    DEATH BOOKS A RETURN
                    COOK THE BOOKS
                    BIG BOOK BETRAYAL
          Deadly Past Mysteries:
                    DEADLY WILL
                    DEADLY DESIGN

          To enter, leave a comment on this blog post with your name and email address (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:
* Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
* Follow me on Twitter (+ 1 point) (Link:
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link:!/
* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)

Winner will be chosen at random using  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Good luck!  Contest closes midnight, May 31!


  1. The dreaded technological glitch! Glad you have it fixed.
    We are FB friends and I've linked this to my page
    I visit regularly
    I don't tweet or have a blog.
    libbydodd at comcast dot net

  2. Thank You!!

    Follow blog & FB.


  3. I love BiblioMysteries.

    FB and blog

    gibsonbk at hiwaay dot net

  4. Computers can either make you or break you. Today's life story for sure. Thank you for hosting Marion Moore Hill and her book information. I liked you on FB and follow you blog as well as sharing your contest on FB. robeader53(at)yahoo(dot)com

  5. I love the Scrappy Librarian storyline. I'm definitely adding these books to my TBR list. Can't wait to read.
    Rocco, following your blog, friends on Facebook, following on Twitter and shared on Facebook.

  6. I love the Scrappy Librarian storyline. I'm definitely adding these books to my TBR list. Can't wait to read.
    Rocco, following your blog, friends on Facebook, following on Twitter and shared on Facebook.

  7. I love libraries. Librarians make perfect heroines.

    * Following your blog
    * Following on Twitter
    * Tweeted
    * Friends on Facebook
    * Mentioned the contest on Facebook